March 10, 2011 at 9:22 a.m.
Unfortunately, the 500 yard freestyle is an ultra-competitive event, and even his blazing fast seed time wouldn't have been enough to qualify for the finals.
Coming into the tournament with a 5:07.17, Smith needed to drop a few seconds off of that time to earn his way into the top eight.
Smith swam a 5:08.82 in the preliminaries, and he had to cross his fingers that the time would hold up. But with 10 swimmers seeded ahead of that time, it wasn't going to be easy.
After all three heats were done, Smith ended up in 12th place in the prelims, missing out by four seconds. The eighth place time of 5:04.34 was posted by Tyler Pavlick, one of two St. Thomas Cadets in the finals for the event.
In the consolation final, Smith finished in fifth place with a time of 5:09.31.
Freshman Tanner Alms of Red Wing won the championship final with a state record time of 4:39.02, over 11 seconds faster than his prelim time.
In the 400 yard freestyle relay, Smith, Avery Turman, Eric Barnes and Matt Mattson had their crack at a final with two seniors among the quartet.
Although they were the lowest seed coming in, the Wildcat foursome beat three other teams in the prelims with a time of 3:28.53.
In the consolation finals, the exhausted team, which featured Smith, who had just swam the 500, finished in 3:29.12, dropping down a place to finish seventh in the consolation round.
As a team, the Wildcats finished with 10 total points to finish in 31st place out of 34 teams that had swimmers qualify. Fergus Falls won the meet in a tight race with St. Thomas. The Otters tallied 205 points while the Cadets had 204. The co-op of Breck/Blake was also in the running with 201 points.
Despite the finishes in state, just making it to the tournament was quite an accomplishment for all four guys. This was Smith's third year in a row in the 500 and second year in a row as part of a relay team. This was Mattson's first time at state, and as a senior, him and Smith each get to end on a high note at the tournament designed for the best swimmers in the state of Minnesota.
Barnes and Turman are both just sophomores, and each one of them swim multiple events.
Also this group of boys were a part of Chisago Lakes' first ever North Suburban Conference title in swimming, as they finally made it over the hump and beat Benilde-St. Margaret's and St. Louis Park in the same season. They finished the year with an unblemished dual record, including a perfect record in the conference.
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